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When it Comes to Branding, Get Real

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By Gee Dunsten

RISMEDIA, August 2, 2010—The term branding is certainly no stranger to the real estate industry. But in 2010, the concept of branding has evolved…because America has evolved. As economist John Tuccilllo recently said, the number one trend in America right now is skepticism and the result has been an increased degree of speculation in all types of decision making…including selecting a real estate agent or company to work with.

Thanks to social media and social networking, branding is morphing and taking on an additional life. As the “Socialnomics” video Allan Dalton showed during RISMedia’s recent Social Media Summit pointed out, “word of mouth is now world of mouth.” When looking at the building blocks of effective branding in today’s culture, the very first thing to consider is that communication today is no longer one-to-one but one-to-many.

The other essential component of effective branding in today’s market is clearly defining your identity…and sticking to it! Branding should define who you are, what you do, and what you represent. And what you represent should be aimed at enhancing or improving the life of your consumers. Effective branding leads consumers to accept and validate who you are and, in turn, refer you to others.

While many agents make their names the focal point of their brand, the most effective agents are identifying themselves with not only their names, but a slogan or logo that further differentiates them from the masses.

Amy Chorew, for example, a Realtor in Hartford, Connecticut, has a brand that speaks for itself—“Tech Bytes.” Using Tech Bytes in addition to her name not only familiarizes people with who Amy is, but what she’s associated with.

Your brand must be part of your entire marketing plan—it has to fit and it has to be relevant to the niche or niches you are trying to serve. For branding to work, you need to narrow the areas you like to serve so that you feel personally confident and energized in serving your passions. Who you are must be a part of your brand and your brand must exhibit who you are—consistently. Everywhere I show up—either in person, in print, or online—I have to make sure that the same image of Gee is portrayed. That’s the only way your brand will work.

So while you may use your branding to attract attention, if you’re not showing up as the same person your brand represents, then your credibility is brought into question. Today, whether it’s through our videos, our blogs, or our social media posts—which are all critical tools to leverage for branding—we have to be consistent and we have to be real.

We must also build credibility for our brand by listening to what the community is saying. If they’re skeptical and cynical, we must connect, engage and educate. As Rosemary West, a Top 5 in Real Estate member from Chicago, says, “You don’t learn unless you get out and reach out so that you can discover for yourself what your clients and customers need. These are not prospects or leads, but relationships.

The potential for utilizing technology to build your brand and reach consumers is huge, but only consistency and transparency will validate your brand. You must use vehicles such as video and blogging to substantiate the brand you put forth. You must engage people with advice on buying and selling real estate or information about your community. You must make posts that cause consumers to comment. Consider enhancing your brand through a mobile business card, which builds your credibility even further. Your goal is to encourage consumers to interact with you so they can see that you are, indeed, what your brand proclaims you to be…the real deal.

George “Gee” Dunsten, president of Gee Dunsten Seminars, Inc., has been a real estate agent and broker/owner for almost 40 years. While not a university professor, Dunsten has been a senior instructor with the Council of Residential Specialists for more than 20 years. To reach Gee, e-mail, gee@gee-dunsten.com.

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